Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
I played guitar for Capital FM in the world's first ever fully live radio advert break, in front of a massive studio audience. It was new, exciting and the whole thing was put together the morning of the broadcast so a lot of talented people had to be very accommodating and spontaneous. Lots of fun.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm mixing the 3rd Storey album, 'Echoes of Time' which is proving to be the biggest and most rewarding project of my life. But I'm learning lots of loving it.
Analog or digital and why?
Digital generally. For someone who is on the move a lot, mixing 'in the box' makes life a lot easier, and if you spend a few quid on some decent plug-ins there's no excuse not to sound good now.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
Putting your hard work in the hands of a stranger can be difficult. You've taken it so far and then you have to relinquish control right near the end. I know how that feels, so I promise to make that process as stress-free as possible, and devote as much care and attention to your art as you feel it deserves.
What do you like most about your job?
I love that my working week can be a real mixed bag, and that depending on what I'm working on, I can be expanding my musical/engineering skills in any number of directions. Sometimes I won't touch my guitar for a couple of weeks so it will then be a real treat when I get booked to play, even at a wedding!
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
More often than not, people's biggest concerns are time frame and cost. If those two things are met then generally people are happy to proceed. With the internet and word of mouth, people generally have a pretty good idea of your credentials even before they've contacted you.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
I'm not sure there are any.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What are their expectations I guess. It's usually a fairly natural conversation once you're both singing from the same page.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Speak to a few people to get a feel for the person you're working with. Call me!
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
My Crafter acoustic guitar. My ukulele in case a get any unexpected visitors. My mac with a copy of Pet Sounds for me to transcribe and listen to. My nice Beyerdynamic headphones so I don't disturb the wildlife at night.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I started off as a freelance guitarist soon after graduating from music college in London, 2002. I've taught guitar, played guitar, piano and bass in a number of bands and played all over the UK and in America. Once I started working in recording studios I took a real interest in the mixing and engineering side of things so after absorbing a lot from a number of talented producers, decided to buy some gear, study hard and get on with doing it myself! Mixing my own band's material was a good place to start and the other work followed naturally from there. Most work comes from word of mouth.
How would you describe your style?
As a composer/lyricist I hope I do a good job of writing 'colourful' music, and am getting better at marrying the melodies and music to the words themselves. The music should enhance the message of the words. I take a similar approach to mixing - the mix should bring out what the composer wants to put across with his words and music.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Dead - Claude Debussy. I don't think anyone has ever had such an individual and important philosophy towards composition and music. He had no boundaries.
Alive - Jimmy Page. Led Zeppelin's records sound as fresh and vibrant today as they did the day they were recorded. How did he do that?!
Can you share one music production tip?
From a mixing point of view, take the time to learn the audio spectrum - what different frequencies sound like on different instruments. It makes cleaning up (or dirtying up) a mix a lot less stressful and more enjoyable. Your EQ is your most important tool.
What type of music do you usually work on?
Pop, rock and sometimes classical. A lot of acoustic stuff.
What's your strongest skill?
I'm a musician first and foremost - I love and absorb music, and that informs all decisions I make whatever I'm working on. If you want to learn to mix, learn the history of your craft - the gear, the pioneers. If you want to play guitar (like I did in college) then know your history - the real players, movers and shakers. Leave no stone unturned.
What do you bring to a song?
An arranger's ear - a sense of growth and development from start to finish, whether that's in the story it tells, or the textures it moves through as it builds and evolves. If I'm writing the lyrics, I like to think I have a nice, accessible simple style. If I'm mixing or arranging, then it will evolve structurally, making it a more interesting listening experience.
What's your typical work process?
That depends upon what I'm doing. Whatever it is, I give it my all and try to learn from it. I'm very studious so am happy to put the background work in first, so once the job starts it runs smoothly.
Tell us about your studio setup.
It's a small but effective setup. It's a nice space with quality components. Nice mics, top guitars and amps, great plug-ins - all run through nice warm preamps.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Those who even after achieving success, continue to push themselves, study, become better musicians and extend their boundaries. Miles Davis had the musicality and artistry, but was also always one step ahead of the pack. I love that. They get stick from certain quarters, but every single Coldplay album has had a different sound to its predecessor.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A mixed bag! Composing music and lyrics, session guitar work, mixing and backing tracks are all common. Still a lot of live work as well.